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Businesses and Organizations Accelerate their Marketing Efforts after Norman, Oklahoma Destination Workshop

A workshop sponsored by VisitNorman brought Destination Business expert Jon Schallert to Norman, Oklahoma to help businesses owners and regional tourism leaders boost traffic from distant visitors and consumers.

Dan Schemm, Executive Director of VisitNorman, and Kelli Payne, General Manager of the Oklahoma National Stockyards Company, said Schallert’s workshop is already inspiring changes and accelerating excitement with long-established tourist attractions.

Schemm, who brought Schallert to Norman for a luncheon presentation during National Travel and Tourism Week in May, said he brought Schallert back for his full-day workshop to introduce businesses and communities to his message. Schallert’s 14-point Destination process, developed across more than three decades of interviewing thousands of independent business owners, provides economical ways to create broad attention by highlighting unique businesses and experiences available to visitors.

“Our organization is selling Norman as a community,” Schemm says. “With Jon’s expertise, we now look at it on a broader level. How do we turn our districts, how can we turn Norman as a community into a destination? I think we can take Jon’s principles and values and focus them on our commercial districts and our city as a whole.

“Everybody who attended Jon’s workshop thought it was outstanding. People left the workshop ready to start implementing his 14-step process right away and some might attend his Destination BootCamp class.”

Michael Jones, owner of Gasoline Alley Classics in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, attended Schallert’s workshop because he is preparing to open his first retail shop next month. His store will be filled with man-cave memorabilia located in a former 1917 Ford assembly plant located on historic Route 66.

“Jon knows his stuff,” Jones said. “He’s helped a lot of businesses. You can see what he’s done, and those businesses who followed his advice, I can see where it’s a game-changer. With these steps, you’re going to be a Destination Business.”

After leaving the workshop, Jones has already changed his displays, moved product to his front windows created target mailings, and created online videos that will make him the face of the business. He has placed a vintage photo of his historic building at the cash register so customers can take a last-minute selfie before leaving.

Jones is also planning for Route 66 Highway’s Centennial in 2026 by positioning his business as Route 66’s only dealer in upscale mancave décor such as restored parking meters, replica oil cans, and drive-in speakers that connect to stereo systems.

“I’ve never done this retail side,” he says. “I’ve only run a wholesale business and gone to car auctions and trade shows. By creating my business into a Destination, I’ve got something that will draw people to me.”

Payne, who recently completed a master redevelopment plan for the four-square-mile Stockyard City, said Schallert’s workshop will boost efforts to implement the plan.

“The value of Schallert’s workshop was certainly there,” she said. “The excitement was there. His common-sense approach to revitalization and development was very welcome. Our momentum is headed in the direction we want it to be and the information we learned compels us to keep heading in that direction.

“We are a destination, but how can we improve on that? What are other steps to get there incrementally that will bring forth positive results?  With this information, we’re taking what’s working well and making it great.”

3 Keys to Becoming a Destination Business: My Post-Thanksgiving Blog

3 Keys to Becoming a Destination Business: My Post-Thanksgiving Blog

This newsletter started out as a Thanksgiving post, but evolved into the 3 keys to growing a business into a Destination, a $300 discount code for owners (near the end), and a promotion that could be worth well over $1,000 for any association or community that wants to have me speak in person in 2022.

All this, in this newsletter.

But, I started with Thanksgiving in mind and began by mentioning the people I am thankful for who helped me over the years:

  • I started with Karen Slevin, the Eustis Florida Main Street Director, the first Main Street Director to walk me around her downtown when I was totally clueless about downtowns.
  • Then came Ronni Wood from Winter Haven Florida, the first Main Street Manager to hire me to speak to her downtown businesses.
  • Then, Glenda Purkis, the Atchison, Kansas Chamber of Commerce Director who first hired me for an out-of-state speaking engagement.

And as I kept writing, I wanted to thank the owners who shared with me how they created their businesses, and though I couldn’t remember all of their names, I remembered how they unselfishly told me how they created their profitable businesses in marketplaces that often had demographic disadvantages, low population density, high unemployment, or low household income. And these owners persevered, creating many multi-million-dollar businesses there.

Which brings me to Key #1: Some of the greatest Destination Businesses operating today were created in cities and towns where a market analysis of that area said they’d never make it.

I thought about the Destination doll house maker I’d met in a struggling town in West Virginia; a Destination dry cleaner in rural Indiana that specialized in mascot costumes; a Destination heating & air conditioning company (in Kellogg cereal’s hometown); a green tea importer in Oregon; a Destination yarn retailer in Maine; and a Destination flak jacket manufacturer who created protective vests and sold them to pro rodeo riders (if you guessed Texas, you were right.)

Which brings me to Key #2: Destination Business aren’t just restaurants and entertainment venues (as one well-known consultant told hundreds at a conference). It’s any business that wants to attract more consumers.

Which brought my mind to a marketing professor from a college where I was speaking who introduced me as a speaker who specialized in business differentiation.

He was wrong, and that brings me to:

Key #3: Being different has nothing to do with becoming a Destination. Being different doesn’t cut it. Forget differentiation because Destination Businesses must be Unique and one-of-a-kind. “Existing as the only one” says Merriam and Webster, the married dictionary couple.

If you are an owner who wants to make your business Unique, this step will often mean there will be times when everyone in your industry, your neighbor in the business next door, and your family sitting at your dinner table, all might think that your ideas are illogical and impractical.

“No one does that,” they’ll say.”

That’s OK. I tell owners to trust their crazy ideas. Nearly all Destination Business owners have told me that they went in a different direction from the majority of their industry.

Here’s a simple example in an email I received last week. You’ll see what I mean:

“I want to thank you for expanding my mind to bigger ideas! I ended up with an extra 5000 copies of my holiday gift guide and decided I would send them out to towns and cities outside my area. I did an EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), to cities that were from 60 to 110 miles away, to their highest earning routes! We are getting orders and calls like crazy! My website is on fire! Thank you! Before I met you, I would have never considered paying for towns that far away to get our catalog!

The Destination process I teach isn’t for owners who want to maintain their existing sales volume. It is designed for owners who want to get their businesses to generate a higher level of revenue that gives them the income they need, without their business consuming their lives.

That’s the trick.

So, I hope this non-Thanksgiving newsletter has been beneficial to you.

Here’s something else that might help:

Our 2022 Destination Training Schedule and Incentives

We are now taking registrations on these four (4) classes that kick off in 2022.

First, our Destination BootCamp, 3-day, online class that covers my entire 14-step Destination strategy. We have two (2) online Destination BootCamp classes scheduled in the first half of 2022:

  1. February 22-24, 2022 (click here for the February BootCamp class), or
  1. May 10-12, 2022 (click here for the May BootCamp class)

Additionally, if you register for either of these BootCamp classes by December 31, 2021, and you type in the Promotion Code SAVE2021, you will save $300.00 off the tuition fee!

Again, Promo Code SAVE2021 (all CAPS, all 1 word), and you’ll save $300 per registration.

Second, for those of you who are community leaders, Main Street Managers, Chamber Directors, SBDC Counselors, or you are a person who wants to train businesses in your community to help them generate more revenue, you might consider becoming one of our certified Facilitators of my Destination Creation Course.

The Destination Creation Course is my simplified version of my Destination process that’s taught by Facilitators all over North America. We have Facilitators in 23 States and 2 provinces in Canada.

To become a Facilitator, you must take my Train-the-Trainer class and two (2) classes are scheduled for 2022:

  1. January 18-20, 2022 (click here to learn more), or
  1. March 8-10, 2022 (click here to learn more).

Want to see where we need Facilitators? Just click here to see our map. You could become our first Facilitator in our State or Province.

Finally, If your association, organization, or community is interested in having me conduct an in-person single-day or multi-day workshop for your group in 2022, we have a year-end promotion that could save your organization tremendously. But don’t delay – this promotion ends December 31, 2021. To learn more, go to: Jonschallert.com/year-end-promotion

That’s it for my non-Thanksgiving newsletter! Let me know what you liked or disliked. Reach out at [email protected] or give me a call at my office (970) 281-2923.

Thanks!

Puyallup Main Street Hosts “New Rules of Small Business” Workshop After Pandemic Delay

What was supposed to happen in 2020, finally happened on October 5 with business owners from the City of Puyallup, Main Street Directors from multiple downtowns, and business owners from all over the State of Washington joining me for my “New Rules of Small Business Success” 1-day, in-person workshop.

Puyallup Main Street Jon Schallert workshop

There aren’t a lot of in-person conferences right now, but this one was successful thanks to the Puyallup Main Street Program and the help of multiple sponsors, including the City of Puyallup.

What was also extraordinary about this event was the attendance from multiple groups and individuals in the City who came together for this event.

In my audience were six (6) Puyallup Main Street Board members; the City Manager of the City of Puyallup, Steve Kirkelie; and the City’s Economic Development Director, Meredith Neal, to name a few.

 

 

This workshop, delayed because of the pandemic, was a great example of what can occur when a community wants to help their local businesses.

In attendance were independent business owners, new start-up entrepreneurs, and several independent Farmer’s Market vendors who now have the ability to expand their products and services to a much larger audience, now that they know more about making their businesses a Destination.

These photos were taken by Kerry Yanasak, the Executive Director of the Puyallup Main Street Program, and others who were in attendance.  What a great venue to speak in.

If your community would like to sponsor a similar event and help your local business owners, just give me a call.

Thanks again to Kerry and others for making this happen, and for these great photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The importance of celebrating your successes

Last Thursday I spent the day in Marshall, Michigan, speaking to nearly one hundred business owners from all over the State. Some owners drove in from over 4 hours away to spend the day learning how to turn their businesses into Destinations, capable of pulling in customers from far outside their marketplaces and keeping the locals spending money at home.

Owners started arriving at 7:30 in the morning, with some finally heading back to their businesses after 4:00 p.m. It’s tiring for me to speak all day, but my day is not nearly as long as it is for the owners who come to learn. All of the owners who attended took time to leave their businesses for an entire day, and when the workshop was done, most of them go back to their businesses to work on the tasks that are still waiting for them.

I’m always amazed by the dedication and work ethic and stamina of the owners in my audiences.  These owners not only work hard, but they are also constantly critiquing themselves, always critical of their own shortcomings, always pushing themselves to achieve more, wanting to be better as owners and leaders in their communities.

If you’re an independent business owner who sees yourself in my description above, here’s something I want you to start doing:  At the end of each day, I want you to take a few minutes to write down the major successes you accomplished in your day.  Find a journal or a notebook that you can dedicate to this purpose and just grab it at the end of every day, and quickly jot down any major achievements you had that day.

Here’s why I’m asking you to do this: The owners I know don’t acknowledge their successes. Most owners are great at beating themselves up over the tasks they haven’t completed. They dwell on the mistakes they’ve made, and the opportunities that might have passed them by.

I think part of this is their perfectionist nature and part of it happens because owners expect themselves to create successes. When successes happen, they don’t dwell on them. They don’t pat themselves on the back when they knock something off their list; they just move onto the next unfinished task and the next challenge ahead.

Writing down your successes will seem foreign to you at first, but just take a couple of minutes at the end of each day and jot down any significant wins you’ve had. That’s it. Pretty simple.

One last thing: Try this technique for 1 month, and then, email me at [email protected] and tell me what you see happening.

We Have Seats in January and February’s Destination BootCamps

Every year, it’s the same: Our Destination BootCamp classes that are held early in the year always have the smaller attendance numbers than the ones that are held in the Spring and Fall.

Year after year this happens and my theory is that early in the year, owners decide to take certain steps to improve their businesses, but by mid-year, when sales haven’t grown like they wanted, owners realize that taking my class might help. Consequently, our later-in-the-year BootCamp classes always fill up.

There are plenty of advantages to taking our January 29-31 or our February 19-21 BootCamps: If you attend one of these classes, the smaller class size means that you receive more 1-on-1 assistance from me.  The early BootCamp classes also give you the entire 2019 year to implement the changes you learned, which means you’ll most likely see a greater impact in your 2019 revenue figures.

Finally, my 2½ day Destination BootCamp is only held in Longmont, Colorado, and it’s the only way you can learn my entire 14-step Destination Business strategy that I’ve been teaching since 2002.

If you’d like to learn more about all of our Destination BootCamp classes or you’d like to register for these empty seats, just go to:  www.DestinationBootCamp.com.

Thanks, everyone.  That’s it for this week.  Let me hear of your successes!

 

Jon

Destination Wyoming Main Street: Four towns, four days, and 1,200 miles

In late April and early May, I’ll be taking my longest-ever speaking road tour – four towns, four days, and 1,200 miles to talk to business owners and community leaders in the small cities and towns spread across Wyoming. The state has plenty of nationally-known tourist destinations, such as Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, and Jackson Hole, and Wyoming Main Street wants to help towns attract travelers to come off the interstate for more than just a pitstop on their way to those vacations.

Linda Klinck, the Program Manager for Wyoming Main Street, wants me to help the businesses in those small towns add more tourists and visitors to the local shoppers to help them succeed: “We don’t have the density. We are so spread out in such small communities. But here’s what we do have: millions and millions and millions of tourists coming through the State each year. I’m challenging the communities to become a Destination and get the people off the highways. The businesses have to be ready for them. You’ve got to provide them the experience they’re hoping to get when they get there.”

Linda and I first met nearly 20 years ago, when I spoke at her state’s Main Street downtown conference in Indiana.  Then, Linda was part of the group in Logansport Indiana who sent a group of business owners through our Community Reinvention Program, where a group of business owners and a Community Leader all attend my Destination BootCamp, and they then enter a 4-month training program to help them successfully launch their new Destination Business goals.  She saw how this helped her hometown of Logansport.  Then, in 2015, Linda moved West and started leading Wyoming Main Street, and that’s when we reconnected again.

Wyoming Main Street is hosting and sponsoring these four workshops, and I’ll be posting the exact times, venue locations, and the cost to attend each Destination workshop in the coming weeks.  For now, put these dates and cities on your calendar for my workshops:

  1. On April 30: I’ll be in the southwest corner of Wyoming in the city of Evanston, and then,
  2. On May 1, I’m in downtown Laramie, then,
  3. On May 2, my workshop’s in Wheatland, and finally,
  4. On May 3, I’ll be ending the speaking tour in northeast Wyoming in the city of Gillette.

Any business owner or community leader, even if you’re outside of the state of Wyoming, can attend the workshop and participate in the learning.

I love speaking trips like this one.  Towns and small cities like these are crucial to our country’s well-being. The business owners in these communities are dedicated to a good life, they work hard, and they are proud of their businesses, homes, and the lives they have there. They deserve to succeed and there are tools and techniques that owners aren’t using that can help them tap the potential of their businesses, and I’m looking forward to helping them during these four days in this beautiful state.

Come stop by and learn something with me during my Wyoming Road-Trip.

Until next week,

Jon

Destination BootCamp class April 2017
Sure, Retail’s tough. And here’s how to succeed at it.

Not a week goes by without someone saying to me: “Retail’s tough.” I hear it from developers, bankers, downtown directors, and business leaders.  They say with a “That’s just the way it is” sigh.

Want to know how independent retailers today thrive? Here’s how:

At the invitation of Suzanne and Jim Sereff, owners of the Warm Hugs gift shop in Greeley, Colorado, I attended their invitation-only Mastermind retailer group in Kansas City the day before I was scheduled to speak at a big retailer conference.  I knew Jim and Suzanne because they had just attended one of our Destination BootCamps with their daughter Beth (they’re in the photo above).

Their Mastermind retailer group was made up of more than a dozen owners. They hold their annual 2½-day meeting when they’re all together for a conference, plus they have dinners together and informal meetings at trade shows through the year. When they can’t be together, they keep the conversation going with a private Facebook group page. Just watching them, I could see that they have what it takes to flourish in today’s small business environment – clear focus, open collaboration, courage to try new ideas, and accountability to keep commitments.

I was able to be with them for several hours.  One after another, these remarkably savvy people running their own successful stores stood up to talk about ways they’ve made their business better – a social networking tool, a marketing strategy – and they’d share their materials. All of them!

Suzanne and Jim got in front of the group and talked about coming to the Destination BootCamp and shared what she’d learned about becoming a destination business, like identifying and promoting their Unique Positioning, a key step in attracting local and out-of-town customers. They weren’t protective of secrets, and they were open to all kinds of feedback. Suzanne told me they also share product finds when they get together for dinner at the sprawling trade shows: “You cannot see everything in these huge buildings in Atlanta with floors and floors and floors of stuff. It’s nice to have other eyes out there.”

These owners aren’t worried about competing with big-box stores, or Amazon, and they don’t sit around being nostalgic about some golden age of small business retailing. They’re too busy getting it right in their own shops and confident that, with smart moves and each other’s help, the pie can grow big enough for everyone to succeed.

Sitting with them in their Mastermind group, I knew they were right.

the Hartville Hardware Store: The World's Largest Hardware store
Retail Isn’t Dying & the Retail Apocalypse Isn’t Coming

In the last 2 months, there have been multiple articles written about the “Retail Apocalypse”, the term journalists use to describe the many retail stores and malls that are closing.

One article in Bloomberg magazine by Matt Townsend and others was titled: “America’s ‘Retail Apocalyse’ Is Really Just Beginning”.  The article detailed the debt that major chains are carrying and the history of chains going out of business.

My favorite article was written by Bart Higgins in the Wall Street Journal that showed the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio with the headline “What to Do with Dead Malls?” Bart wrote: “Brick-and-mortar stores are closing at unprecedented rates”.  To drive home the point, the WSJ used a photo of the mall at center court showing boarded-up stores, dying trees in the planters, and broken lights and tiles dangling from the ceiling.

All of these articles sure make it sound like the end is near for retail.

But nothing could be further from the truth.  What we’re witnessing is not the end of retailing. We’re witnessing the results of years of rapid retail growth of copycat stores who thought the way to grow profits was to add more locations, adding their stores to developer-created clusters of additional copycat stores in any city or county that seemed viable.

What we’re really witnessing is retail reinvention in a massive way. And the winners will be those proactive retailers that make themselves true Destinations for consumers, complete with one-of-a-kind product, services, experiences and surprises.  These retailers will continue to grow and thrive, despite any competition that comes from Amazon and other online retailers.

Want an example?  Look a mere 17.2 miles away from where the Rolling Acres Mall in Akron stands as a wreck of its former self and you can find the Hartville Hardware store, the world’s largest hardware store at 305,000 square feet, thriving in a city of 3,020 people.

What?  The world’s largest hardware store profitably exists in a city of 3,020?  Yes!  And though this store is unusual because of its size, there are hundreds of Destination retailers in North America whose locations are even more demographically-challenged, not nearly as large, with often lower populations, that are attracting both local customers and shoppers from miles away.

All of these stores are living proof that Consumer Destinations are avoiding an Apolcalypse and proof that as Destination retail thrives, so can small towns and urban areas prosper when a developer would never have considered their marketplaces viable for a mall of any kind.

So, when you hear someone say that “retail is tough”, remind them that it’s never been an easy vocation, and when someone says that Amazon is going to kill all retail stores, just smile and walk away because retail isn’t dying. It’s simply morphing. And those smaller communities, savvy developers, proactive downtowns, and retail entrepreneurs who recognize that ‘location, location, location’ is no longer the key to retail success will be the true beneficiaries of this retail shift.

That’s it for this post. Feel free to call if you’d like to talk more about your business becoming the most powerful version of itself, a Destination Business.

Jon Schallert
President, The Schallert Group, Inc.
(303) 774-6522

Opportunity for 18 Grand County Business Owners to Participate in Community Reinvention Destination Business Program

Grand County Economic Development will pay for 18 Grand County business owners to participate in Jon Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program which begins with a 2½-day Destination BootCamp in Longmont on October 25-27. The organization is accepting applications for the grants until September 15.

Last year, 18 county business owners took advantage of a similar opportunity to participate in Schallert’s Community Reinvention Program that included his 20-hour Destination BootCamp workshop, 4-months of follow-up training, and a 1-on-1 on-site visit from Schallert to provide specific marketing advice to grow their businesses into “Consumer Destinations” (see photo below).

October late 2015Schallert, who has taught tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to make their shops irresistible to both local and tourist customers, started developing his trademark 14-point strategy during a decade at Hallmark Cards where his model was called “The Schallert Method”.  Schallert’s firm, The Schallert Group, started in 1996 and is based in Longmont, where he holds six Destination BootCamps a year.  Over the last 14 years, over 50 counties, cities, and towns have participated in the Community Reinvention Program.

“I learned so much,” said Rachel Rayburn, owner of Altitude Jewelry in Winter Park, who attended last year. “It really feels like I’m now starting to see the benefits of that. It just took me a while to sift through all that new information. I was letting everything go on autopilot, and I wasn’t doing anything to market, and that was a mistake. He said, ‘Do lots of little pivots, do little low-cost things, see what works for you. We’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Rayburn implemented Schallert’s shop-rearrangement suggestions after his visit – putting a signature jewelry line on a dominant wall rather than by the door, for example – with immediate results.

“We flipped all of the cases and moved everything around,” she said. “We started seeing the sales of what we make increase almost immediately.”

To apply the BootCamp ideas to her Mountain Grind Coffee & Bistro in Winter Park, Susan Volk displayed her unique positioning statement on her most visible wall, promoted local food on a Wall of Fame behind her counter, and installed a copper replica of an old-fashioned expresso machine as the coffee shop’s “monument.”

“It was great to be able to put some of those things to use,” Volk said. “I was also able to use some of that information to create a new brochure that did a better job at telling my story. I think it’s generated a little buzz as well.”

Steve Kudron, owner of Quacker Gift Shop in Grand Lake, said the tips helped his personal business approach as well as his marketing. The store, which specializes in unique tourist-related items like rubber duckies, hand lotions, and fresh fudge, has online and wholesale components, along with his storefront on the boardwalk in Grand Lake.

“During the BootCamp, one of the things I learned was having the right kind of balance as a leader and what were some of the tools to be able to do that,” Kudron said. “That was a good refresher for me and an opportunity for me to make positive changes in our business.

‘I was able to take our understanding as a destination type store and really turn it using his unique positioning concepts. I was able to drill down and find the right blend of marketing as well as uniqueness in our store to really make a difference.”

Last year’s event also provided business owners in the county an opportunity to meet and start sharing ideas.  Business owners from Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, Grand Lake, and Kremmling all attended last year.

“It was great to meet people from other parts of the county,” said Volk, who later took a four-day trip to meet fellow participants in their own shops. “I met with a lot of those different business owners and got a chance to check out their businesses. I was struck with the creativity and energy they had there. Hopefully that raised some awareness for businesses in other parts of the county.

“It’s very challenging, particularly in small and rural areas where it can seem very competitive at time. The more of us that are succeeding, whether we have competing businesses or not, the better it is for all of us. I came away from the BootCamp and the Community Reinvention Program with a really strong sense of that, and I’d like to see that carried on to businesses across Grand County.”

Small business owners may apply to participate in this year’s Community Reinvention Program by submitting a letter of interest. Grand County Economic Development received a $27,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant with a token $290 investment from the County for the program. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross sales to qualify.

For more information and to apply for the program, call Grand County Economic Development at (970) 531-1343 or email: [email protected].

Creating Consumer Preference: The First Step in Becoming a Destination

Creating Consumer InsistenceFor those of you who just had a 3-day, July 4th weekend, you might have experienced what I did this past weekend, an overwhelming number of choices on where to spend my 3 days off.

All of these were on my “Possible Go-To” list:  There were several 4th of July parades in our area.  There were firework shows on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.  Two of my favorite breweries had bands playing at them (Left Hand Brewing and Wibby Brewing).  Plus, there’s always a fun concert in our city’s park where they fire off a cannon that makes all the dogs pull out of their collars.

Then there’s the new Independence Day movie.  In this one, Will Smith’s character is dead.  I heard the movie’s not that great, but I’m still wondering how are we going to beat the aliens without Will Smith?

I’m guessing you experienced much the same this last weekend:  Where do you go when there’s too much to see, too much to do, and too little time to do it in?

You did what I did. You made decisions and judgments.  Quick ones.  You heard about all the things you could do, on television, radio, and from your friends.  You read about what was going on, in the newspaper, on Facebook, via Twitter, in emails, and online.  You probably discussed all the choices with your family, your spouse, or your friends.  Then, you decided.  You processed all the choices and said: “This is what I’m doing this weekend.”

Here’s why I’m focusing on this:  When a business is working to become a Destination, there’s one primary outcome that they must accomplish.  How do we get a consumer to say:  “I’m going to that place!”  That’s really the #1 Goal. Get the potential customer to come to your business.  Do this well and it leads to Outcomes 2, 3, and 4:

#2:  Customers connect with your business, and they spend money with you.  A little money’s OK, but spending a lot is preferable.

#3:  They leave as ecstatically happy customers, and they go out and talk positively about your business, spreading word-of-mouth.

#4:  The next big step: Getting them to come back again and again, each time, giving you and your business money.

To summarize:  That’s the place I’m going, followed by, that’s the place where I’m spending my money, followed by, that’s the only place I’m going from now on.

It seems easy, but it’s not easy. There’s a definite step-by-step process that must be followed.  Now, I’m not saying that the process is hard.  It’s not hard.  Any business owner can do it if you follow the correct steps to create Consumer Preference, and you know strategically how to push the motivational “buttons” of consumers.

Intrigued?  Well, if you’d like to learn how to push those buttons so that customers come to your business again and again, read on.

2016 Destination BootCamps

Most of you know that I spent years discovering what makes one business a Destination that becomes extremely profitable and successful, while another business in the same community doesn’t have that success.  To learn this, I interviewed over 10,000 business owners and traveled to over 500 cities and towns.  I also kept really, really good notes, processed what I learned from all the brilliant business owners I’d interviewed, and then, (and this took a little luck), realized that what each of these super-successful business owners was doing was actually a repeatable process that I could teach. And for the last 19 years, I’ve taught this.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take you years of your life to learn this.  You can learn how to make your business a Destination in 2½ days, at my Destination BootCamp, held in Longmont, Colorado.  (Here’s a photo of our most recent class)

DSCF3886

If you want me to teach this Destination strategy to you, you have two (2) Destination BootCamps in 2016 where we still have seats available:

Our next BootCamp, on July 26-28, has approximately 12 seats left, and I expect when it’s all said and done, that the class size will probably have about 25 attendees, based on our current projections.  (By the way, with this class, we will pass one thousand (1,000) business owners who have taken our BootCamp.

We’re not giving anything away to the thousandth owner/attendee, but I still think it’s kind of cool.

Then, our following Destination BootCamp on September 13-15 has approximately 8-10 seats remaining.  We are estimating this class will fill up.

Miss these 2 dates and you’ll have to wait until March, 2017 (8 months from now), to attend my next Destination BootCamp.

Interested in learning more?  Are you interested in learning why hundreds of business owners and entrepreneurs have attended over the last 14 years and you still haven’t?  If so, go and read “What You’ll Learn” at the Destination BootCamp by clicking here.

Or, if you’re still skeptical, you might want to read what other previously skeptical business owners (just like you), said AFTER they took the class.  Read that by clicking here.

And finally, if you have any questions about how my BootCamp can help your business, feel free to call me directly at 303-774-6522, extension 104. I’m happy to talk to you.

Thanks!  Hope to see you in Longmont soon!

Jon

Everyone Wants You to Grow, but Who Really Wants You to Thrive?

Thrive not Survive

To all independent business owners!

Here’s something to think about:

I once received a call from the sales vice-president of a well-known national franchise who wanted me to speak at their annual convention.  He’d heard about me from one of his independent franchisees, and he knew that I helped businesses grow their sales, customer traffic, and profits as a Destination Business.

We seemed to be the perfect fit, but then he said:

“One thing: I can’t have you mention anything about that Destination-stuff you speak on. These are franchisees. They have set territories.  You can’t say anything about becoming a Destination Business because I don’t need a bunch of franchisees leaving that convention, all half-cocked, thinking they can pull customers from anywhere they want.”

And with that, I politely declined speaking for them, and referred him to another speaker.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand his concern.  I know how franchised businesses work.  A well-known franchise (like a McDonald’s), wants their locations to deliver brand-uniformity: The same image, the same products, the same promise.

Consistency, not differences.

But here’s the thing: Consumers don’t always want the same.  Most of the time, they actually want uniqueness. They want one-of-a-kind.  They like individuality.  And they especially love Shop-Local, independent businesses run by local owners.

Who knew Mom and Pop were gonna be so Hot?

But the good news is: The principles of being a unique Destination can be merged with franchise systems. But you need a franchise management team that’s willing to grow and learn, like the Real Deals on Home Décor franchise. When I met with the Real Deals on Home Décor executive team, they hired me to help their franchisees grow their businesses.  Period!  No conditions. No limitations.  They wanted me to teach their franchisees and their management team all about my Destination strategy and they wanted me to give their independent owners all the tools they needed to bring in more customers and sales! We took the Real Deals franchise model and incorporated the most powerful parts of my 14-step Destination process and blended them together.  Then, they had me teach the strategy to their independent owners.

Real Deals on Home Décor wanted their franchise network of independent business owners to thrive, not just survive.

Now think about your company’s manufacturers who supply your business with products.  I learned there’s a difference in manufacturers when I spoke at the American Lighting Association.  No sooner had I left the stage when I was approached by the management team from Kichler Lighting, one of the largest lighting manufacturers in North America.  They liked what they’d heard and within 2 weeks, they had me design an entire 12-month training plan for their lighting showroom customers that included workshops, 1-on-1 consulting, and monthly Destination webinars, all designed to drive more customer traffic into their businesses.

Kichler Lighting created a program that took the strengths of their product lines and mixed it with the Destination Business process to help their retail store owners grow. Not just plod forward.

They wanted them to thrive.

Why do I tell you these stories?  Because I want you look closely at the companies, resources, and programs that are integral to your business, and then, decide if your company is receiving what you deserve.  Are the people who manage these entities just helping you maintain your business, or are they giving you all the tools to accelerate your business to its greatest potential?

Some of you know that James Cash Penney, the founder of the JC Penney chain, was a fellow Longmont, Colorado entrepreneur. His first business was located just 2 doors down from our location at 321 Main Street in downtown Longmont just 119 years ago.  I’m going to end this blog post with a quote from my former neighbor:

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”

It’s time for you to insist that those forces start working towards your company’s maximum growth.

Destination BootCamp update:

I wanted to update you on our remaining 2016 Destination BootCamps:

  1. We have three (3) remaining Destination BootCamps in 2016 that have space in them. Their dates are:
    1. June 7-9
    2. July 26-28
    3. September 13-15

The October 25-27 class is full and can take no more participants.

Here are three workshops in my schedule that are open to the public:

Thursday, May 19: 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at Hutchinson Community College, 1300 N. Plum, Justice Theater in the Shears Technology Building in Hutchinson, Kansas, Increasing Sales & Profits as a Destination Business. To register, call 620-665-8468 or email [email protected].

Tuesday, May 24: 9:00 to 10:15 a.m. in Milwaukee Wisconsin at the National Main Street Conference, Room 102C in the Wisconsin Center.  The 7 Steps to a Memorable Main Street: Capturing Today’s Customers as a Destination Downtown. Join me for my 1 and only session, and then, stick around and let’s talk about your Destination Downtown challenge.

Tuesday and Wednesday, June 14-15, Austin, Texas at the Real Places 2016 Conference, sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission. Go to RealPlaces.us for more information.

Thanks, Everyone!  Let me hear of your successes by emailing me at [email protected]

Jon

The 4 Biggest Lies Customers Tell You

Lies to Look Out forMost of you who own a business know this, but customers lie.  They lie a lot.  Most don’t do it in a spiteful way, but from the time they’re walking in your business, they’re not telling you the truth.

Does this shock you?  You must be new to the world of independent business ownership.

Let’s start with the first lie they spout when they walk in: “Oh, I’m just looking.”

But they’re really not. Most people are too busy to walk into a business and stroll around just looking.

Here’s what they’re really saying but not telling you:  The outside of your business looked interesting and something caught their attention. They had something in their head that they needed and they thought you might be the place.  They had a problem and they thought you were the solution.  Now they’re inside and your place isn’t living up to what they expected.

Now their interest?  Not so much.

Now that they’re inside, you’re about to hear the next lie.  Here it is:

“You have a cute place.”

Now, there are variations of this lie.  For instance, you might hear: “What a nice place”, “Your place is so different”, and “Wow, look at this place”.  Regardless of how it’s uttered, this is the lie to make pleasant conversation as they’re looking for that thing they need that they’re beginning to realize you don’t have.  They’re buying time, conveying friendliness, and scanning your business, deciding if your place is really worth the time to stay in and explore.

Finally, when they go up and down one aisle (I call it the “Just-looking-loop”), they start for the exit.  And right here, they’ll often spout these two Big Ones:

“I just love your place”.

My Mom used to say to me:  “Your nose is growing.”  Try saying that to them.

This is a bold-faced whopper.  For those of you who are naïve, who think they’re sincere, here’s how to know if they’re telling the truth:  If they say this, and it isn’t followed by giving you money and buying something, it’s a lie.

And the final one I love:  “I’m going to look around, and I’ll be back.”

Now they’re laying it on thick.

This one has different meanings.  Bottom line: They’re out of here. You’ll never see them again. This is their exit lie. This lie can mean that they misjudged your business, thought you had something that you either don’t have or they weren’t able to find, and now, they’re trying to be nice by giving you that exit compliment.

Or, this lie can have a different meaning these days:  It can also mean they found what they want in your business, but they’re going to check online to see if it’s cheaper and if it is, they’ll buy it there.

Well, that’s all the time I have today in this blog.  Hope you enjoyed the 4 Biggest Lies Customer Tell You.

Upcoming in my future blogs, I’ll explain these two favorites:

“I don’t come down here much because there’s not a lot of parking” and “I get so busy I just buy it online.”

Gotta love em!

With 40 Pages of Updates, You Should be Coming Our Way

We have five (5) Destination BootCamps this year, the next one being in 18 days on April 19-21.

By the way, we only have 3 seats left in it.  (And if you’re interested, the skiing is excellent in Colorado; stay for the weekend and go up skiing). FYI: Our registration BootCamp deadline for our April class is Monday, April 11.

After the April BootCamp, our next Destination BootCamp is on June 7-9, followed by one in the end of July, mid-September, and the end of October.

But you should know that in all of our 2016 BootCamps, I’ve already made over 40 pages of updates and changes, to keep the material current.  Lots of new website, social media, and digital marketing changes and additions, along with new photos, success stories, and my new “Shop Local” section, where you learn how to actually get customers to shop local, without having to play the guilt card (which doesn’t work anyway).

Finally, I’m always happy to talk to you and walk you through how I think you’ll benefit from our BootCamp, and if your business isn’t a good fit for my class, I’ll tell you that, too.  Just call me at our office number below.

Hope to see you in Colorado this year!

Until next week,

Jon

Quit Killing Your Business: Preserve Your Profit Margin

Your Money Up In SmokeI’m not very good sitting in an audience. Sitting’s not my thing. But I’m especially bad at sitting still when there’s a business consultant on stage telling independent business owners that their best shot at bringing customers in their doors is to discount their products and services.

You see, I was speaking at a conference, had some time between my sessions, and wanted to hear this consultant’s take on small business success, but I wasn’t in my seat 3 minutes and he starts telling the owners in the audience that a great way to bring people into their businesses was to give a “tax-free” day to customers, and discount their prices by the percentage of their tax rate.

Now, I’m not saying this technique won’t work.  It will.  But so will discounting your product 20%, 30%, or even 50%.  But why stop there?  If you really want to attract thousands of customers in a single day, just give all your products away for free!

Nobody wants that, do we?  Yes, we want customers to come in our doors, but we want them to pay a fair price so at the end of the day, we’ve made a profit and we’re making a living doing what we do.

But that starts with understanding the downside to price discounting.

Business owners are mistakenly giving up critical dollars that their businesses need to survive. I meet owners every day that have gone down the road of constantly offering discounts, but who also complain to me at the end of the year that they’re not generating a profit.

Folks:  Heavy discount marketing = a profit poor performance.

Plus, the more businesses discount their prices, the more their customers are trained to wait for the discount. (Think Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sports Authority).

Oh, wait:  Sports Authority just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Coincidence?

There are smart ways to market a business with price discounting, creative methods that don’t hit your bottom line so hard, and in many cases, give the customer a feel that they’re getting a great deal, while really not giving up very much profit margin at all.  I have webinars in DestinationUniversity.com, our business owner training network, on this topic.  But for now, remember these basic tenants on discounting:

  • Every customer wants good value these days, but not all customers need a discount to purchase.
  • Discount marketing attracts the least loyal consumers who are most likely to desert your business when another business discounts more.
  • These same discount-oriented customers generally spend less money and demand more attention than more profitable customers.
  • Bottom-line reality: The more you discount, the more bottom-feeders you’re going to attract.

Want to minimize your price discounting?  It starts with focusing on making your business distinctive, specialized, and one-of-a-kind, focusing on unique products and specialized services that people haven’t seen before.

Or as I like to say: Creating customer insistence by becoming a Destination.

Only 4 Seats Left

We have only four (4) seats left for my April 19-21 Destination BootCamp, where you can learn to implement my entire 14-step strategy that turns your business into a Consumer Destination, equipped to entice customers from hours away.

If you’re not familiar with Destination BootCamp, click on www.DestinationBootCamp.com and take time to read the nearly 200 testimonials from business owners just like you, who write about how Destination BootCamp has accelerated the sales and profitability of their stores, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars!

This is the fourteenth year I’ve been doing the BootCamp. We’ve nearly run 1,000 business owners through my process.

I know you’ve thought about attending. Why haven’t you?

Don’t miss this chance to transform your business. Make the commitment to come to Colorado and attend one of my 5 Destination BootCamps in 2016.

Until next week,

Jon